Earlier this year North Dakota’s federal delegation – Senators John Hoeven and Kent Conrad along with Rep. Rick Berg – announced millions of dollars in airline subsidies under the Essential Air Service program for airports in Devils Lake and Jamestown. These subsidies break down in thousands of dollars per flight in subsidies.
Just last week these same politicians, joined by Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley, gathered to try to win more service from the airlines. My point is that our political leadership works long and hard, and spends millions upon millions of our tax dollars, to promote airline service in North Dakota in those two communities.
My question is…why? North Dakota is one of the fastest growing airline markets in the country:
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Airline boardings at North Dakota’s eight commercial airports in May were up 26% over May 2011.
State Aeronautics Commissioner Larry Taborsky says 84,000 people boarded planes at the state’s eight commercial and regional airports last month.
Taborsky says airports at Bismarck, Dickinson and Williston had all-time record boardings in May while Grand Forks and Minot set boarding records for the month.
But where are flights and boardings not growing? The two airports where our politicians have been dumping millions of our tax dollars:
6 of the eight airports saw increases over the year. Devils Lake and Jamestown were the only airports that had a decrease from 2011.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Update: Per the comments, it appears as though Dickinson is currently receiving EAS subsidies too. Which only proves my point, I think. It’s not about the subsidies, it’s about the market.
The “economic development” crowd believes in the “if you build it they will come” approach. They think that if they subsidize air service, the demand for that air service will manifest itself. But in reality, the service goes where the demand is.
I changed the headline to reflect the correction.